A fellow sailor snapped a couple pics of me from his paddleboard this week. It was around about 7am on a very light wind morning. What can I say? The Aero 9 is fast even in super light wind. It’s a revelation.
My impatience to try the 9 sail got ahead of me putting the sail numbers on, but this is 3328. 🙂
It was also a beautiful morning and I’m ever grateful to be able to do this.
I took delivery of an RS Aero recently and took the boat for the first real spin this morning. What a boat! So light, fast and responsive.
I reckon I’m a good weight for the Aero 7 and it was good to feel totally in control in the gusty conditions and play with the wind. Almost ironically, it’s much less effort to sail than the Vareo; gusts arrive, you feel the wind on the face and the boat instantly accelerates.
The sail controls just work and feel light and responsive. Upwind compared to anything else I’ve sailed was an absolute joy (and fast) and off wind the boat flies, and I mean flies.
Coming back to shore another Aero benefit became apparent, our slipway had a bar of sand and stones near the water’s edge but the boat and trolley are so light, recovery was super easy. No more risking back and knees.
In these current COVID-19 times where being safe and reducing risk is important (no one wants to cause RNLI or coastguard callouts), the RS Aero will increase my opportunities to sail and have fun on my own.
In line with government and RYA guidelines, our local sailing club is allowing a responsible return to sailing again. We’re all mindful not to put ourselves at risk in a way which might require an RNLI / coastguard call out, but it’s just a joy to get out again.
I’m a frequent solo sailor already and consider myself experienced and careful, so this doesn’t change too much for me but I am even more mindful of the conditions now. My favourite forecast remains the Met Office wind forecast because it’s so accurate and has a good gust forecast.
The picture above was taken after a long sail in late May 2020 in windy and gusty conditions where in the interest of risk reduction I used the storm sail. The storm sail has a 7m2 sail area vs 8.8m2 so produces much less power but the boat is much easier to control.
Normally I avoid the storm sail as it feels so underpowered but on this occasion it turned into a surprisingly good experience. I did lots of windward / leeward practice; the beat was easily manageable with board fully down, with boat moving just fine, and off wind with kite up the boat moved nicely too. Nothing crazy but satisfactory with a few grinning moments.
Reaching was a bit of a drag, though that might also have been the messy wind but the storm sail had me focusing hard on boat speed more rather than relying purely on raw wind power. This was good experience, and something I’ll happily do again. Getting more out of a smaller sail seems a good exercise in any case.
2019 has been a good year, I’ve done a ton of sailing throughout the whole year, passed my RYA Dinghy Instructor and have started winning the first races, also finishing in the top three for the series I entered.
Boat handling has improved considerably this year, I’m quite comfortable in much stronger and gusty weather conditions, I got the hang of the kite and have improved boatspeed quite a bit. I go sailing regularly on own super early before work or before breakfast on the weekends and enjoy being alone in the bay with the elements and seabirds. It’s always different.
The Vareo isn’t well suited to the trapezoid courses we tend to run at Swanage Sailing Club but nevertheless sailing with the kite up as much as possible has proven the key to moving up the places. The times I did capsize this year were all gybing with kite up in a blow, a bit of work is needed here.
It’s cool to be moving up the placements and also see the practice paying off, and also figure why things worked and why the hadn’t. Whilst I’ve had races where everything worked with large gaps between me and the next boat, apart from obvious impacts such as a poor start or not hiking hard enough, losing boatlengths seems to be the aggregation of small errors; a poor tack, missing a shift, a poor mark rounding, a slow spinnaker hoist, being caught in dirty wind, misjudged angles.
There have been some races this year over 5o minutes where I beat the next boat by only a couple of seconds or was beaten by a couple of seconds. It’s motivating to be closing the gap and know where improvements can be made. Those I practice 🙂
I see plenty of areas to improve; starts, tactics, working wind shifts and tides better, and 2020 will be the year I start open events. I had entered the POSH event at Paignton in 2019 but couldn’t make it in the end with vehicle failure, I won’t miss it next year. I’m looking forward to racing with more Vareos in 2020.
I made some learnings about series races too, simple stuff such as when to take or not take risks which could affect overall placement.
The Vareo is an absolute blast and I’m enjoying it a lot and I honestly wouldn’t want a boat without a kite now. Acquiring an Aero aluminium style launch trolley recently has made a huge difference to boat recovery and pulling it around the boat park, this was the only niggle before.
SSC ran a regatta again this summer which I took part in. Thirty three boats, five races over two days, each course different with good wind, building up on day two to quite frisky conditions. On the last race the daggerboard was humming in new tones I’d never heard before, it was that fast (grin!). Mine is 239.
There were two other Vareos which made for a bit of sub-fleet racing which was great fun.
Thanks Doug and team for running a fantastic regatta. Thanks Adrian for the fantastic pictures.
I’ve been out sailing loads the last months, racing and practising as well as instructing kids the last twelve weeks as part of my club‘s junior training.
My race results continue to improve and I managed a reputable 3rd in the Spring evening series. There’s still work to do on consistency in stronger winds but I am getting more able in higher winds though at my weight it’s a challenge.
Current practice focus is two fold, firstly spinnaker work and among other things holding tighter angles and keeping speed up on lower angles. Gybes are pretty smooth, the faster the better.
Secondly better control and keeping boat speed on in gusty conditions. It’s all very well practising with even winds, but races never seem to have this perfect conditions (funny that!).
My fitness isn’t bad and I’m able to hike hard for decent periods now and looking forward to the longer out of the bay races. Sheet loads are relatively high on the Vareo which is also good for upper body strength, all good stuff.
This is a common sight when I’m prepping to go out, local fishermen out and about, sea birds lining up to pick up their throwaways. There’s only one bird in this picture, but a queue of birds is not uncommon. Herring gulls and lesser black backed gulls mainly.
It’s not surprising really as they’re out around high tide too, close to slack water the same as me. Not that I’m very tide dependent but pulling a boat out at a higher tide is less effort.
The sailing season starts soon, I can’t wait. The frostbiting season has been a success I’d say, and I’ve been out mostly once a week at least throughout the winter regardless of the cold. 🙂